Saturday, 1 February 2014


If there's a question you think should be answered here, or if you have any other feedback, please leave a comment.

1. What is AIF?
AIF stands for Adult Interactive Fiction. Interactive fiction is a fancy name for the text adventures that were popular in the early 1980s. Thus, the term adult interactive fiction is used to describe text adventures that include interactive and explicit sex scenes.

1(a). What is a text adventure exactly?
In a text adventure the game world is described to the player primarily through text. The player then describes what he wants the character he controls to do, again through text.

1(b). Do text adventures never include graphics?
A few AIF games do, although most don't have more than a handful of pictures. Goblinboy's later games (such as School Dreams 3 and Meteor) and Lamont Sanford's Pleasantville games are among the few AIF games that include hundreds of pictures.

2. What do I need to play AIF?
Most AIF games are downloaded in the form of a non-executable file, which you will need a compatible interpreter to play. To play an AIF game you simply run the appropriate interpreter and then use it to open the game file.
Unfortunately, each of the different authoring systems has its own interpreter (some of them have more than one). If you're using a Windows PC you will want to install the HTML TADS Player's Kit (which plays TADS 2 and TADS 3 games), something that is capable of playing the various Inform game formats (zcode and Glulx), and the ADRIFT 5.0 interpreter. The latter isn't very backwards compatible, so if you want to play older ADRIFT games, you'll also need the ADRIFT 3.9 and 4.0 interpreters. Finally, if MC or TF games are your cup of tea, you'll want the RAGS interpreter as well.
     HTML Player's Kit -
     Windows Frotz (zcode) -
     Windows Glulxe/Git (Glulx) -
     RAGS -

2(a). Do I really need to install that many programs?
The alternative to installing multiple interpreters would be to use something like Gargoyle, which bundles a large number of different interpreters together. The drawback is that the ADRIFT and TADS interpreters it uses don't have the same functionality as the 'official' interpreters. Specifically, they can't handle multimedia (which isn't that common in AIF) or naming the PC (which is very common in AIF).
     Gargoyle -
     Spatterlight (Mac) -

2(b). What if I'm not using Windows?
There are interpreters available for other operating systems, such as Mac OS or Linux, although they may not have all the features of the Windows version. Additionally, some authoring systems are better supported than others in this regard.
     CocoaTADS -

3. What games should I play first?
Individual tastes will vary, but in general anything by Goblinboy, A.Bomire, BBBen, Chris Cole or A.Ninny is well worth a look.

4. Where can I find AIF games?
The best place to find AIF games is the AIF Game List. As the name suggests, it's a list of every AIF game ever made, and is sortable by title, author, release date, PC, sexual content, and genre (although the latter two fields are incomplete). Most importantly, it has download links for all of those games.

5. Okay, I've installed the right interpreter and used it to open the game. Now what do I do?
Basically, you play AIF by reading the description that the game gives you, deciding what you want your character (the PC) to do, and then typing it out. 
There is an AIF Player's Guide that goes into the basic commands in more detail. You should also have a look at the readme file, if there is one for the game you're playing.
For a (non-adult) example of how playing interactive fiction works, you could also check out Brass Lantern.

5(a). What's a PC or an NPC?
PC stands for Player Character. It's a term that originated with tabletop role-playing, and then made its way into computer games. It denotes an in-game character that is directly controlled by a player.
An NPC is a Non-Player Character, which is any character that is not directly controlled by a player.

5(b). Type stuff out? But I'm playing a RAGS game.
Although I'd consider adult RAGS games to be AIF, they're an exception in that you direct the actions of your character via an interface rather than a text parser. The compass rosette is used for moving around. You can also right-click objects, NPCs or locations to perform actions on them.

5(c). Interface? This dating game doesn't have anything like that.
Dating games (like the Virtual Date series) aren't AIF in the traditional sense, but they're close enough. Dating games are typically HTML-based. That is you open the first file in a browser and then do things by picking from the links the game gives you. If you pick the wrong link, you're out of luck as most dating games don't allow you to undo actions once you've made them, or save your position.

6. I'm stuck in this game. Where can I go for help?
If you don't want the entire game spoiled for you, the best thing to do would be to post a question to the aifarchive Yahoo group, and hope that someone gets back to you with the answer.
If you don't mind having the whole game spoiled, or you just want to get to the good bits as quickly as possible, you can try to hunt down a walkthrough (if one exists for the game). The majority of available walkthroughs are linked to from the AIF Game List.

7. That was fun. Can I write my own AIF games?
You certainly can! You don't need to have any previous programming experience (although it would probably help), but you will need to be prepared to put some work into learning how to use whichever authoring system you choose.

7(a). Which authoring system should I choose?
This is a question to which there is no right answer. There are a large number of authoring systems out there and some are going to suit your personal needs better than others. A good place to start the decision process is Cloak of Darkness, which features the same simple game written in multiple authoring systems.
In general, you'll probably want a system that fulfils the following criteria:
a) Currently supported; if you encounter a bug you don't want to discover that the system's creator stopped updating it five years ago
b) Active community; you'll want somewhere to go for assistance if you're trying to do something that isn't covered by the manual (such as write a sex scene). An active community can help in other ways, such as by writing documentation, sample code, or extensions (modules of code that perform specific tasks, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel).
c) Free; given the current economic climate you probably want to save your pennies where you can.
On that basis, the major choices are Inform 7, TADS 3, and ADRIFT 5.0.
     Cloak of Darkness -
     A Comparison of TADS 3 and Inform 7 -

7(b). What is Inform 7 like?
Inform is one of the oldest (or most mature, if you prefer) authoring systems. Inform 7 went into open beta in 2006, succeeding Inform 6 (although Inform 7 games are still compiled into Inform 6 code). It's the most popular authoring system in the mainstream interactive fiction community, and is slowly growing in popularity in the AIF community.
Inform 7's major selling point is that it uses natural language (or something close to it) rather than code for programming. That means that Inform 7 source code is much less intimidating and easier to understand for non-programmers. Another point to consider if you're not using Windows, is that Inform 7 has fully functional Mac and Linux versions.

7(c). What is TADS 3 like?
TADS stands for "Text Adventure Development System" and, along with Inform, it's one of the oldest authoring systems still currently in use. The latest version, TADS 3, was redesigned from the ground up in 2006. The popularity of TADS has declined in the mainstream IF community over the past few years, but it's still well supported in terms of updates and documentation. The AIF community also has a few TADS gurus, so you can be reasonably certain of getting help when you need it.
TADS games are written in programming code (rather than putting an insulating layer between the author and the code), which means that it has the steepest learning curve of the three systems I've listed. However, having access to the nuts and bolts of the source code gives the author tighter control over the game.

7(d). What is ADRIFT 5.0 like?
ADRIFT stands for "Adventure Development & Runner - Interactive Fiction Toolkit". ADRIFT 5.0 was redesigned from the ground up and went into open beta in April 2011, so while you might encounter some bugs it is being actively supported by its creator, Campbell Wild. There is also an active community at the forums, and a few ADRIFT gurus at the aifarchive Yahoo group. Finally, and unlike ADRIFT 4.0, ADRIFT 5.0 is donationware so you don't have to pay anything to use it (although it would be nice for Campbell if you did).
ADRIFT's major selling point is that writing the game is done via a graphical interface, so if you write a game using it you can potentially get away without having to learn any sort of programming. The caveat is obviously that it's still in beta, so you should expect to encounter some problems when using it. At present it's only available for Windows and Linux, but a Mac version is in the works.

7(e). Which authoring system is the most popular?
In terms of number of games made, the two most popular authoring systems in AIF are actually earlier versions of two of the systems I've listed above (specifically TADS 2 and ADRIFT 3.9/4.0), with Inform 7 in a distant third. TADS 2 is hardly obsolete, as Goblinboy and others have proved, while Inform 7 is still Inform 6 'under the hood', so those older systems are still viable choices. However, if you're learning a system from scratch I think it makes sense to choose the most recent version.

7(f). Are there any resources online that would help me write a game?
There certainly are. See Author Resources for more details.

7(g). I want to be like Goblinboy and create a game with lots of graphics. How do I do that?
The graphics in Goblinboy's more recent games were created with DAZ 3D, which is a free program. However, if you want to make full use of DAZ 3D you'll likely end up buying resources (such as models, textures, and so on) for it.
If that doesn't appeal to you, you could try taking pictures from other sources (such as adult websites), although that would run into copyright issues. You could also try taking screenshots from games such as The Sims or 3D SexVilla, or drawing your own pictures if you have the necessary talent.

7(h). I've finished writing my game. What should I do now?
Before you release your game you should definitely advertise for some beta testers. There are always going to be some problems that you miss but which a fresh set of eyes will find. Ideally you want those eyes to belong to your testers, rather than the general public.
Once your testers have given you the all clear, you should announce the release of the game and provide details of where it can be downloaded. To ensure the widest possible audience you should probably make that announcement at both the aifarchive Yahoo group and this blog, and possibly other forums as well (such as Shark's Lagoon if your game features graphics). Casting your net over such a wide area hopefully ensures that you receive the maximum amount of feedback. Other than the (now very unlikely) possibility of winning an Erin, feedback is the only reward you'll receive for your hard work.

7(i). What's an Erin?
The Erins were semi-annual awards that were voted on by the AIF community. Like the Emmys there were a number of different categories your game could be nominated in: Best NPC, Best Threesome, and so on.
Unfortunately, the Erins were not held in 2008 and 2010 because there were not enough games released in those years, and in 2012 it was decided to suspend them indefinitely.

8. What is the AIF community?
In a wider sense the AIF community includes anyone who plays AIF games. However, it's normally used to describe the members of the aifarchive Yahoo group, who historically have been the 'core constituency' for AIF. It also includes all of the major AIF authors, so the Yahoo group is the best place to learn about new games.
The AIF community also holds an annual Minicomp (ie. a competition for small games, rather than a small competition), and until 2010 there was also a monthly newsletter (Inside Erin).


  1. Just a question about publicising a work - I've just recently finished a basic first attempt at a graphical AIF - is it possible for me to make a post giving the details and requesting feedback?

    1. If you send me an email ( I can set you up with author access for the blog (you'll need a Google account).

      Alternatively, just tell me what you want to say and I can post it on your behalf.

      If you're publicising your game, you might want to consider the AIF Central subreddit as well (